Grit, Toughness, And A Lot Of Rebounds Aren’t Enough For Hoosiers To Overcome Shooting Woes In Close Loss To Spartans

“In East Lansing they punked us. We came to this mindset, this can’t happen (again).”

Those were the words of Juwan Morgan after Indiana’s 63-60 loss to Michigan State in regards to the team’s performance, and what a performance it was on Saturday night.

Just a few weeks ago, the Spartans obliterated the Hoosiers 85-57. Indiana was outrebounded 45-27, outscored 17-6 on second chance points, and outscored 38-18 in the paint.

On Saturday night, the Hoosiers wouldn’t be pushed around. Instead they pushed back. The Hoosiers outrebounded the Spartans 53-29, outscored them 14-0 on second chance points, and outscored them 24-22 in the paint.

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough.

The Hoosiers dug themselves a first half deficit thanks to some horrendous shooting as IU made just 6 of 35 shots (17.1%) during the first 20 minutes. Yet despite a gigantic disadvantage in shooting (Michigan State shot 12 of 24 in the first half), the Hoosiers were still within striking distance going into the second half down just eight points.

The reason for this was because of Indiana’s huge rebounding advantage. Despite being blocked nine times in the first half, the Hoosiers kept crashing the offensive glass and were rewarded with 15 first half offensive rebounds, which is just one shy of how many total rebounds the Spartans had in the first half.

However there is a Yin to every Yang. The absurd amount of offensive rebounds meant that the Hoosiers were missing a lot of shots, which contributed to the low shooting percentage.

To counteract that and keep the Hoosiers in the game, Indiana grabbed all but one of Michigan State’s missed shots in the first half, preventing the Spartans from getting a single second chance point.

The Hoosiers would shoot much better in the second half, hitting 13 of 31 field goal attempts (41.9%) while continuing to own the boards 25-13, yet the Spartans were able to hold on thanks to their extremely efficient shooting.

Despite taking 19 fewer shots over the course of the game, Michigan State stayed ahead thanks to 48.9% overall shooting (23 of 47) compared to the 28.8% overall shooting (19 of 66) of Indiana. The Spartans were also 50% (9 of 18) from three-point range compared to the Hoosiers’ 21.1% (4 of 19).

“(Michigan State) had a lot to do with the (low shooting) numbers, just in terms of impacting the rim and the field goal percentage offense with their shot blocking and their size and they made it hard on us,” said IU Head Coach Archie Miller, who despite having narrowly lost yet again to an elite opponent, was very proud of his team’s toughness.

“Credit our guys. I thought they fought hard and played hard. We’re getting, especially against some really good teams, to the last two or three minutes and just have to find a way to make a couple of plays. And I think that’s what teams who know how to win do, teams like Michigan State and Purdue. With two minutes on the line they know they’re going to win. And right now we’re still trying to figure out how to make those dagger plays to find a way to win.”

A Recap Of Ferrell and Williams’ Career-Highs During IU’s Win Over IPFW

Last week James Blackmon Jr. set a career-high for points scored when he poured in 33 points against Alcorn State, which marked the most points ever scored by a Tom Crean-recruit at Indiana. That distinction lasted all of eight days as Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell scored a career-high 38 points to lead the Indiana Hoosiers to a 90-65 win over the IPFW Mastodons.

Ferrell wasn’t the only Hoosier to set a new career-high against the Mastodons, as Troy Williams grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds and blocked five shots. Williams also finished with 15 points, two assists, and two steals as both he and Ferrell picked up the slack for a Hoosier squad that only received a combined eight points from James Blackmon Jr. and Thomas Bryant.

So how exactly did Ferrell score 38 points? How did Williams grab so many boards? Let’s take a look at the play-by-play to analyze how these two feats materialized:

Under 16 Timeout (1st Half): Ferrell – 2 points, Williams – 1 rebound

  • When a player finishes with a career-high they usually get off to a fast start in that particular statistic. However, nothing about Williams or Ferrell’s performance to start the game hinted at either of them having career games. In fact, at this point Williams had more turnovers than rebounds (2 to 1) and Ferrell hadn’t even attempted a shot (his two points came off of free throws).

Under 12 Timeout (1st Half): Ferrell – 2 points (4 total), Williams – 1 rebound (2 total)

  • Second verse, same as the first. Things aren’t looking good for the Hoosiers at this point as John Konchar of IPFW had just tied the game at 17 and was heading to the free throw line after the break to complete the “and-1”. Again at this point Williams has more turnovers (3) than rebounds.

Under 8 Timeout (1st Half): Ferrell – 6 points (10 total), Williams – 4 rebounds (6 total)

  • It’s not a coincidence that as soon as Ferrell and Williams started picking up the pace that the Hoosiers started to separate themselves from the Mastodons. A 17-17 deadlock turned into 29-22 Hoosiers lead by the next media timeout. At this point all 10 of Ferrell’s points are either layups or free throws

Under 4 Timeout (1st Half): Ferrell – 5 points (15 total), Williams – 5 rebounds (11 total)

  • We finally get Ferrell’s first jump shot, a three-pointer, which would set the tone for him in the second half. Meanwhile, let’s take a moment to realize that Williams just grabbed nine rebounds in an eight-minute span. It happened so fast in realtime that it caught many people off guard, including myself. To put it into context: Williams had more rebounds between the 11:43 mark and the 3:55 mark of the first half than any other Hoosier had the entire game (Max Bielfeldt was the Hoosiers’ second-leading rebounder with eight boards).

Halftime: Ferrell – 2 points (17 total), Williams – 2 rebounds (13 total)

  • Ferrell’s career-high for points heading into this game was 30 so Ferrell was on pace to break it. Only problem is that no one noticed because Williams finished the first half one rebound short of his career-high. Want to hear another outrageous stat? Williams outrebound IPFW by himself in the first half. I’m serious; the Mastodons had 12 team rebounds heading into halftime while Williams had 13 by himself. Before Williams had his nine rebounds in eight minutes run, IPFW was leading the rebounding battle 7-6.

Under 16 Timeout (2nd Half): Ferrell – 7 points (24 total), Williams – 2 rebounds (15 total)

  • Williams tied his rebounding career-high on literally the first play of the second half by rebounding a missed layup by Brent Calhoun. Williams set his new career-high just a few plays later by rebounding the shot he blocked. Yet it was during this time-frame that people started to realize that Ferrell was within range of his career-best point total. He scored these seven points on three different shots: first a three-pointer, then a layup, and finally a mid-range jumper.

Under 12 Timeout (2nd Half): Ferrell – 2 points (26 total), Williams – 0 rebounds (15 total)

  • With the Hoosiers cruising by 20 points at this point, it looked like Ferrell would fall short of breaking his career-high for points. Williams was busy setting a different career-high as he blocked his fourth shot of the game during this time-frame. He would finish with five.

Under 8 Timeout (2nd Half): Ferrell – 2 points (28 total), Williams – 1 rebound (16 total)

  • While Ferrell and Williams didn’t do a lot in this period, it was crucial for the next four minute period as IPFW went on a 12-5 run to cut the lead to 14. This forced the duo to come back in and make one final run of their own.

Under 4 Timeout (2nd Half): Ferrell – 8 points (36 total), Williams – 3 rebounds (19 total)

  • The Mastodon’s comeback attempt basically ended in a 20 second sequence where Williams grabbed an offensive rebound and found Rob Johnson on an open three followed by a defensive rebound that Williams drove to the basket to draw a foul. Ferrell then provided the exclamation point with back-to-back three pointers, the first of which tied Blackmon’s point total against Alcorn State before surpassing it with the second one.

Final Buzzer: Ferrell – 2 points (38 total), Williams – 0 rebounds (19 total)

  • A lot of starters were subbed out during the timeout but Williams and Ferrell were still out there with a chance to hit 20 and 40 respectively. Williams did get his fifth block but an offensive rebound prevented him from getting his 20th board of the game. Ferrell made one last jumper as he finished the game making his last three shot attempts.